In 1793, Eli Whitney created the revolutionary Cotton Gin which replaced human involvement in the process of separating cotton fibers from their seeds. His invention not only expedited the development of cotton but also resulted in an increase in textile farming in New England and Britain. Cotton production was thus increasing by an average of 7 percent annually from 1800 to 1860. Furthermore, the demand for cotton was rising rapidly and “the soils and climate of the south, especially the new southwest, gave it a comparative advantage in supplying the massive and growing demand for raw cotton”.
With the South’s comparative advantage in the development of raw cotton, it experienced a geographic relocation...
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...ovements of cotton textiles to North and South Carolina. However, “the southern effort to industrialize progressed slowly”.
Overall, the South’s mistake was the decision to overspecialize in slave-agriculture which crowded out other investment opportunities and displaced physical capital. Moreover, the capitalists of the South saw a profitable investment in slaves, thus with the rise of cotton demand their investment in slavery intensified. It is difficult to fault the Southerner’s for their decision in overspecializing. The profitability of cotton farming was increasing at an equivalent rate of slave profitability. Furthermore, with the guaranteed return of investment that was estimated to be equal or above any alternatives, any other decision of investment would seem irrational. However, their decisions eventually weakened the entire economy after the Civil War.
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